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Various Artists – ‘Future Foundations Vol.1’ (2nd Drop Records)

The aptly named ‘Future Foundations’ compilation, assembled and released by ‘strength to strength’ label 2nd Drop Records, showcases a range of talented artists all at their best, in what will no doubt be seen as one of the top tips for 2013.

Label founders James and Mark, both known for having an eclectic taste in all things music, have seemingly sought after a type of genre transparency only obtainable by a select few and indeed, this has been achieved by the few selected.

Opening shop is the atmospheric Alex Coulton with his contribution, ‘Grande Swing’. A generous mix of both bouncy house and thumping techno vibes, Alex has composed a ‘focused’ dancefloor mover, with attention already being received from Rob Da Bank on his Radio 1 show. We were even lucky enough to get a preview of the track on Coulton’s Hyponik mix earlier this year.

‘Faith’ hits us next; an immersive, melodic number from Youandewan. Ewan is notorious for his ability to provide a simple, yet effective groove. However, on this occasion, he appears to have added a touch more depth to his output. This nine minute long track is one I’d happily listen to over and over again; an arrangement of soulful, duelling vocals, dulcet pads and as always with Ewan, a really well put together percussive backdrop, providing yet another example of his out and out consistency.

Having previously released on 2nd Drop (2ndrp008), it was no surprise to see LV‘s name appear on the track list, this time accompanied by reggae melodist Dan Bowskill. I have to say this is one of my favourite tracks on the album and epitomises the type of genre translucence mentioned previously that really sets this release apart. There’s very much a legit reggae feel to this in the way that it’s formed, coming complete with ‘happy romantic’ vocal to match. Big.

The first time I heard the finished version of ‘Sliding Down Rainbows’ I couldn’t put my fist in the air quick enough. It would seem the man behind it, Pedestrian, has more recently been setting his sites on the club crowd. A quick comparison could be made to Axel Boman’s ‘Purple Drank’, a sort of drug enthused fist pumper that’s hard not to nod to. Always exciting and intriguing with his arrangement and output, Pedestrian’s ‘Sliding Down Rainbows’ easily maintains the form held by the previous beats on the release.

‘Without You’, a dub-centric, bass-heavy piece by Last Magpie sets off the second half of Future Foundations. Again, an indicator of the current versatility of mid range house tempo beats, ‘Without You’ provides an abstract, deep arrangement of concentrated bass drums, kick flicks and wet pads. The vocal overlay enhances the dark romanticism of this piece, applied competently to what is an inclusively emotive strain of music.

DjRum can’t really seem to put a foot wrong at the moment and so the trend continues with his addition to the release. ‘Blue on Blue (Voodoo)’ struck a cord with me, especially being a drum and bass head in my former years (I say former..). The track is compiled in such a way that, both structurally and audibly, emulates that of your typical drum and bass measure. A slow, epic start, complete with ripping bassline that charges ones anticipation for what then breaks into a steady flowing melee of low end synth pads and tied over shakers. I also couldn’t help but notice the ‘Kids’ (film) sample towards the end that only further cemented the nostalgia! Another perfect example of genre crossover that this release, as a whole, encapsulates.

Next up, South London Ordnance‘s ‘Daphne’. A ‘roller’ in it’s relentlessness, this tune is most definitely club bound and one for the mix bag. Utilising the rimshot to its fullest, SLO conjures a solid beaty bit of bashment, combining profound bassy stabs with an all encompassing percussive arrangement, worthy of any set in full swing.

Closing up comes ‘This One, The Art of the Possible’, brought to the floor by Manni Dee & Deft, teaming up again to produce something immediately recognisable and equative to both of their respective styles. This tune MOVES to put it bluntly. A seemingly impossible range of clicks, blips, ticks and bumps thawing out into a deep set onslaught of bass ridden goodness. The blueberry on top for me with ‘This One, The Art of the Possible’ is the sample half way through, of a guy articulating how people go on about hardcore and jungle being dead but in actual fact it’s carried on in different form, through different genres. That, in many ways, pretty much sums up the compilation for me right there in a sentence. Music is lucid!

Now, I wouldn’t normally discuss and chew over separate tracks on a compilation in such a clearly defined manner. However, in this instance I think it’s fully deserved. One of the best compilations I’ve heard for a long time, massive props to 2nd Drop and crew for the time and effort.

Will Edge